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HOW TO GET FEPS AFTER SANDY

(Article published in HWW December 2012)


by Susan Bahn and Jack Newton, The Legal Aid Society

FEPS is a rent subsidy for people who receive public assistance and have a minor child. You can use it to find a new apartment if:

1. you have been evicted, or

2. to keep the apartment you have if you are still in it, or

3. if you have a government “vacate” order because of problems with your building, or

4. if your family had to move out due to damage from Tropical Storm Sandy.

You can only get FEPS if you fit in the FEPS rules (see below). If you are in shelter, you might be able to get FEPS if you were evicted less than 6 months ago and owed your old landlord rent money above the regular welfare shelter allowance. If you are not in shelter, you might be able to get FEPS if you were evicted less than 12 months ago and owed your old landlord rent money above the regular shelter allowance. You will need to find an apartment within the FEPS rules and get to a FEPS provider immediately. The providers are BronxWorks in the Bronx, CAMBA in Brooklyn, Queens Community House in Queens, and the Manhattan office of Catholic Charities for Manhattan and SI residents. Schedule an appointment immediately to go over the FEPS rules.

Once you find an apartment within the FEPS rules the FEPS providers must see you immediately.

If you already tried to get an appointment to get FEPS and were told you would have to wait a long time, keep track of when you called, whom you spoke to and when you were told you could have an appointment.

The FEPS rules: you may be eligible for FEPS if:

A. You have a child UNDER 18 or UNDER 19 and still in high school; and

B. You get some CASH public assistance NOW (and if you were already evicted you also received CASH assistance);

C. You (1) had a housing court case with a lease in your name and the court papers show you owed rent above the regular shelter allowance and you did not waive all the rent and you were evicted or left the apartment because you were about to be evicted and (a) you have been in the shelter system less than 6 months before you file the FEPS application and (b) you have been homeless but not in the shelter system less than 12 months before you file the FEPS application OR (2) you have a current court case as above or (3) you have a government vacate order on your apartment or (4) your apartment was made not livable by Tropical Storm Sandy and you have documentation from FEMA, Red Cross or some other official.

D. The landlord is willing to sign at least a one-year lease; and

E. You owe less than $7000; and

F. The rent is at or below the FEPS rent level for the number of people in the home who are documented (see below).

The cash grant for public assistance recently went up a little bit, so people who were earning too much money to get PA before the increase should check to see if they could now get public assistance.

The State may toll, or waive, certain of FEPS rules for families who were unable to obtain appointments with FEPS providers. For these families, they will need to demonstrate that they previously attempted to apply for FEPS at a provider when they were eligible for FEPS but were turned away by the FEPS provider or they were unable to access FEPS as a result of Sandy. The rules that may be waived include the $7,000 limit and the one-year lease rule. Other rules cannot be waived, such as rent caps.

Everyone not getting public assistance must pay a portion of the rent and the arrears. FEPS pays less than Advantage and only for family members on PA. You will often have to pay at least $150-$300 on top of what welfare pays.

WHERE YOU CAN APPLY FOR FEPS

BronxWorks, 630 Jackson Ave., 3rd Floor, Bronx 10455, 718-637-2630

CAMBA, 45 Hoyt Street, Brooklyn (718) 237 6329

CAMBA HomeBase, 1117 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn (718) 622-7323

Queens Community House, 108-25 62nd Drive, Forest Hills (718) 592-5757

Catholic Charities Waverly Job Center, 12 West 14th Street, (212) 337 0247

If you had Advantage, CAMBA legal services can process a FEPS application for you from their offices in the Bronx and Brooklyn court houses.